The signing of Anderson was only a matter of time, as he was the team’s last remaining Restricted Free Agent (RFA). Bringing back Hutchinson is something I don’t think any of us saw coming.
This is quite the surprising move by general manager Kyle Dubas. After signing free-agent goaltender Aaron Dell, no one thought the Maple Leafs were in the market for another goaltender.
Here we have a goaltender who we thought the Maple Leafs had written off. After appearing in 20 games for the Maple Leafs over parts of two seasons, he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for Calle Rosen on February 24th, 2020.
I believe there are three reasons for bringing him back. The first is for goaltender depth should the NHL allow teams to have a modified taxi squad for the 2020-21 season. If the NHL does do this, then the Maple Leafs would carry three goaltenders (Andersen, Campbell, and Dell). Hutchinson and Woll will be the goaltenders for the Toronto Marlies.
The second reason for signing Hutchinson is for insurance. If and when the Maple Leafs send Dell down to the Marlies, he will have to clear waivers first. If another team claims Dell, then at least the Marlies will have Hutchinson and Woll.
The third and final reason is the Expansion Draft in June 2021. If the Maple Leafs decide to let both Andersen and Dell walk as Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA), they can then protect Campbell and leave Hutchinson exposed. If the Seattle Kraken does not select Andersen or Dell, then the Maple Leafs can work on re-signing either of them after the Expansion Draft.
Anderson was acquired on October 10th from the New Jersey Devils in the trade that sent Andreas Johnsson to the Devils. The deal he signed on Friday is a three-year deal worth $750,000 a season. In the first two years of the contract, Anderson will be on a two-way contract and will be waivers exempt. The third year of the contract is one-way, but by then, Anderson should be an NHL regular.
This contract works out nicely for the Maple Leafs as it allows them to start Anderson in the AHL with the Marlies due to limited cap space on the Maple Leafs. It also means that if a player gets injured on the big club, Anderson’s $750,000 will be easier to fit under the cap.
I think Anderson will find his way on to the Maple Leafs lineup on a full-time basis by next season. The team will have six forwards becoming UFAs at the end of next season, and I don’t see the Maple Leafs bringing them all back for 2021-22. Having Anderson signed for the next three years is a job well done by Kyle Dubas.
When I heard that the Maple Leafs signed Hutchinson, I was confused at first until I looked deeper into why. After doing that, I see it as a smart move by Kyle Dubas. I also really like the deal they signed Anderson too. The kid reminds me of Zach Hyman with the way he plays using that same bulldog mentality. I will be looking forward to seeing him develop over the next three years.
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